Rafael Nadal 'not ready' after declining Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships wild card

World No 2 continues recovery from back issue sustained in the lead-up to the Australian Open

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Rafael Nadal has said he does not feel ready to compete at next week's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships after turning down a wild card invitation for the ATP 500 event.

The world No 2 has yet to fully recover from the back injury he suffered ahead of last month's Australian Open where he was eliminated in the quarter-finals by Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has not played since that defeat and was awarded a wild card to compete at the March 14-20 tournament at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

"I would like to thank the @DDFTennis for the wild card invitation sent to me," Nadal said on Twitter. "We seriously thought about coming to play, but I don't think I am ready to play yet."

Nadal's withdrawal denies a potential showdown with long-time rival Roger Federer, himself on the comeback trail after missing most of 2020 with a knee injury.

Joining the Swiss legend and eight-time Dubai winner is 2020 US Open champion and top seed Dominic Thiem.

They will be fighting it out with, among other star names, world No 8 Andrey Rublev, three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, 2020 Dubai semi-finalist Gael Monfils, 2018 Dubai champion Roberto Bautista Agut, and 2021 Montpellier winner David Goffin.